Tuesday, May 22, 2012

El Shaddai: the Compassionate Mother Hen

Below is the audio of my Mothers Day message at River City Community Church. I described the status of women in the ancient world and gave evidence of the feminine characteristics of God that are often missed in churches where the voice of women is silenced.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

The Illinois State Budget - "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves"

Breakthrough recently learned that the 2013 proposed Illinois budget will include a 52% cut to the Department of Family Support Services designated funds for the Emergency and Transitional Housing Program (ETHP). If this budget is approved, Breakthrough would lose $200,000 in support of transitional housing.

Admittedly, we are not politicians or budget experts and don’t assume to know what cuts should be made instead of these. I am hopeful that there are other areas of government waste and excess that could be cut rather than placing the burden to balance the budget on the backs of the poor who often don’t have a voice at the state level. We know that our guests at Breakthrough will be significantly impacted by this decision.

I believe there is a greater cost to society when poor people lose their homes and the services that help them get back on their feet, or when people begin to lose hope that their elected leaders care about them. As supporters of Breakthrough, we all must be willing to either speak out on what we want our government to prioritize, or, in the alternative, we must be willing to sacrifice more individually to ensure that Breakthrough does not have to cut services for those in need.

Breakthrough’s budget is $3.5M. A $200,000 cut in our revenue will not close our doors as it will many other organizations, but it will significantly impact our ability to deliver services if we don’t find alternative funding. Our hope is that our leaders will reconsider this specific budget cut that impacts the people Breakthrough serves in a very real way (kids, homeless, etc.).

Whether or not we change the minds of the legislators, I believe we're called to tell our elected leaders what we care about. We can ask our leaders to find another way. One way or another, we are called to serve the "least of these." I take seriously the words of Scripture in Prov. 31:8-9 to: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Regardless of the state budget outcome, we hope our supporters will stand with Breakthrough in facing these challenges. As the revenues to care for the poor are diminishing the needs are growing even greater. YOU CAN HELP by asking your District Official to oppose these budget cuts. Simply copy the letter below and paste into an email to the representatives listed or your own state elected officials by Wed, May 9.  

We have just 1 week to make our voice heard!

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Dear (Representative/Senator),

I am writing to request that you oppose the 2013 proposed budget which includes a 52% cut to the Department of Human Services designated funds for the Emergency and Transitional Housing Program (ETHP).

The Emergency and Transitional Housing Program provides temporary housing and critical supportive services to get adults back on their feet and help prevent future instability. Due to proposed budget cuts, this program is at risk of losing 52% of its funding, wiping out essential services for thousands of homeless individuals and families in Chicago and across the state.

A 52% cut to this program, from the 2012 appropriation of $9,083,700.00 to the 2013 proposed budget of $4,360,176.00, would leave more than 3,000 Chicagoans out on the streets and seriously at risk.

The state’s continuum of homeless services has shown success, even in the midst of a deep recession. However, because of the recession, programs like Breakthrough in East Garfield Park have ever-growing waiting lists and increasing numbers of turnaways.

When people access services, we see positive outcomes. Our program helps to stabilize homeless individuals. Half of the people served by the ETHP exit the program to permanent or transitional housing.

A 52% funding cut equates to a possible $200,000 reduction in funds to Breakthrough, impacting more than 250 men and women in the East Garfield Park community.

We are asking you to cast a vote for compassion, human dignity and housing.

Please do not support the 2013 proposed budget cuts of 52% for Emergency and Transitional Housing.